Rural generalists are general practitioners with extended scope, who provide primary care services, emergency medicine care, and have additional training and skills in a sub-specialty field. Common areas for advanced skill development include anaesthesia and obstetrics, however rural generalists can pursue sub-specialisation in any field that allows rural patients to receive medical care closer to home. For a full list of accredited specialty fields, visit ‘The Training’ tab.

Rural generalists have a diverse scope of practice, practising both in community and hospital settings. This diversity creates a unique case load and makes for a truly rewarding career.

Living and working in rural and remote Western Australia offers many professional and personal rewards. Many rural generalists remark about the high level of autotomy they enjoy in their medical practice, which begins earlier in their career compared to their metropolitan colleagues. Despite this autonomy, many rural generalists speak of the privilege of working in small, close-knit teams with their nursing and allied health colleagues.

The scope of rural generalists also extends to retrieval medicine. Rural generalists are often the first to care for critically unwell patients and play a vital role in both medical stabilisation and preparing for transfer to another site for definitive care. Rural generalists can also work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, with patient retrieval, transfers, and remote clinic work within their scope of practice.

To hear about the careers of some Western Australian rural generalists, please visit the Rural Generalist Pathway WA website.

Life as a rural generalist

Rural generalists are integral and highly valued members of the communities they serve. One of the joys of working and living in a rural community is the ability to enjoy a work-life balance which is near impossible to achieve whilst working to the same capacity in a metropolitan setting. Rural generalists often reflect on the well-rounded lifestyle they can achieve, with stimulating clinical work balanced by the beautiful landscapes of Western Australia and the activities that come with it. Despite their geographical isolation, many country towns act as social hubs, with community focused activities such as social sports and hobby clubs allowing rural generalists and their families to unwind and enjoy life outside of work.

Rural generalists are characteristically:

  • Resourceful and resilient clinicians
  • Adaptable, perceptive medical practitioners
  • Able to work in a range of environments
  • Interested in improving health outcomes for rural and remote Australians
  • Comfortable working in isolation and enjoy clinical independence
  • Excited by the prospect of adventure and the unknown.

Rural generalists also have the following attributes:

  • An interest in continuity of care
  • Good communication, coordination, and teamwork skills
  • Advocate for their patients and community
  • Thrive in challenging and unpredictable environments
  • Willing to embrace a dynamic clinical setting
  • Enjoy engaging with their community through both personal and professional activities.

To work as a rural generalist, you will need to achieve a fellowship with either the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) or the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), including advanced skill training and core emergency training. The training pathway is the same minimum duration (four years) for the two colleges, however there are some differences in the vocational curriculum. A schematic summary of the two fellowship pathways is outlined in the image below.


All rural generalists undertake vocational training in general practice and emergency medicine as a key component to achieve fellowship. Additionally, all trainees are required to undertake training in at least one advanced skill. ACRRM refer to this as Advanced Specialised Training (AST), and the RACGP as Additional Rural Skills Training (ARST). The below image outlines the specialty areas accredited for sub-specialisation by the two colleges. The availability of training posts for these specialisations varies across the state and depends on the local service demand.


For additional support, prospective rural generalists can apply to the Rural Generalist Pathway WA (RGPWA). The RGPWA aims to facilitate the transition for rural generalist trainees through the various educational and training requirements for fellowship. The RGPWA also assists with career navigation and mentorship, ensuring prospective rural generalists are well supported despite any perceived isolation.

Rural generalist medicine allows you to work anywhere in our great state! Western Australia’s rural and remote population does not have enough access to medical care and is often required to travel large distances to access specialty services. There is a chronic mismatch between healthcare demand and locally available services. Rural generalists are therefore in high demand across Western Australia as they can provide specialised care closer to home for rural and remote Western Australians.

Thanks to significant funding investment of recent years, healthcare facilities in many regional and remote areas have been upgraded. Modern facilities mean higher quality medical care is now possible in the regions, allowing rural generalists to utilise their wide scope of practice with the support of improved resources. The development of Telehealth services has also improved healthcare delivery, allowing rural generalists to have greater support from their metropolitan colleagues. Although working in isolated settings, rural generalists are never truly isolated in their practice due to this channel of support.

When considering a career in rural generalist medicine, it is important to consider the services in demand across the different regions. Rural generalists can live and work anywhere in our state; however, some regions may have greater demand for specific specialisations than others. This demand can be dynamic, and for the most up-to-date information, contact the RGPWA, ACRRM, RACGP, or speak to one of the rural generalists living and working in your region of interest.